Pond Rebuild – Aeration and Housing

This is the final post related to the pond rebuild after the fish kill in 2017. When doing this rebuild project I had not anticipated posting the procedure in a blog so there isn’t as many pictures of all the steps as I would like but I think there’s enough so that it may give other people ideas.

With the pond sump now in place it was time to hook up and test everything out. This next picture shows the basic items hooked up which include the aerator and water feed to the fountain. The aerator I used is the Aquascape 61000 Pond Aerator Pro, this gem has performed flawlessly even though it was out in the open and uncovered for several months (including through a hurricane).

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The sump was plumbed up with a high flow valve like what is used for livestock feeders. This worked well except it was constantly cycling, normally not a problem but it caused the pond fountain to pulse with the same frequency. I later solved this by adding an inline timer valve to just add water in the early hours of the morning.

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The aerator included an air stone but that quickly showed a weakness. Because the pond floor is very soft silt, the stone caused an upwelling of the dirt underneath and ended up on it’s side blowing large bubbles. The primary issues are that it was too small and light and too close to the bottom. After a lot of research I went with a membrane style diffuser and made a plan to give it a semi permanent mount on the pond floor. Here;s pictures of the diffuser top and bottom (with pvc attached):

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Turns out a standard 5 gallon bucket is just about the same diameter of the diffuser, lucky me! To create the concrete base, I first cut a hole in the bottom of a bucket to fit the threaded PVC piece to attach the diffuser.

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Next, I attached the threaded piece to an elbow and measured the height of this on the outside of the bucket. This is done so the top of the threaded pipe will just about be flush with the top of the base (which is now the bottom of the bucket). It will be more clear in a minute. I marked the hole location for the entry pipe:

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Then cut the hole.

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Again, the base is upside down at this point. Since I don’t need the whole depth of the bucket and wanted to remove extra to make the pour easier, I cut the bucket off a few inches above this new hole and set up the pipes inside.

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Next, concrete was added to a little more than an inch over the side entry pipe.

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This wasn’t going to just drop out when hardened, I used a multi tool to cut the sides and peel the base out.

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Now this may make sense, here’s the base flipped over so you can see the threaded part.

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Now with the diffuser screwed on.

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This has worked much better than the cheap airstone that came with the pump. The diffuser is larger, keeps itself clean, is higher of the pond floor, and is weighted down by about 20 pounds of concrete. One last picture of this with the brass connector added and the concrete is drier.  Ready for installation.

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Now for the sump housing. Again, I don’t have a lot of pictures of the construction but I’ll explain how it was built. I made the four sides separately then screwed them together to form the box. There is a one inch gap at the bottom to allow water and debris an escape and also for air flow. Once the box was assembled and squared, I created a roof frame that also doubles as a flip up lid.

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Plywood added and painted prior to shingles.

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This was built completely indoors in my workshop, it’s a lot easier to do that than try to lug all the tools and materials out to the pond area (also cooler in the shade). Once completed, I used the tractor to move the housing over the sump area and tied it down to the slab with some galvanized angle iron and tapcons. Here’s a picture of it installed:

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And with the lid flipped open:

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Inside there’s plenty of room to work around things and enough space to add a water pump for irrigation. At this point I’ve got the timer valve installed and the lighted fountain going.

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I can’t think of anything I’d do differently at this point. If anything, maybe make the pad a little larger and run a few more pipes into it for the eventual sprinkler pump. Over time there will be plants and trees hiding most of the box but for now I think it looks pretty good.

Hopefully all these changes will prevent another fish fill like last time. Another big change is that the pond is only stocked with tilapia now. Previously, it had tilapia, brim, bass, and catfish. I have already noticed hundreds of tilapia minnows which I never saw before since the other fish were eating them.

Now that spring is here, I’ve got some great projects planned. Stay tuned!

Pond Rebuild – Sump

Last week I went through a brief history of the pond, what prompted a rebuild, and construction of the bulkhead. This week I’ll show how the sump was built and installed.

The sump is simply a 12 inch diameter piece of PVC 3 foot in length. It was installed at a height so that the ideal water level of the pond would be about a foot up in the sump, this would allow the installation of a float valve to help maintain this level. In addition, I ran an additional pipe to the sump area for running hidden wires and hoses into the pond.

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The first step was to dig a trench from the new sump area to the pond. I placed the sump close to the artesian well head to minimize additional piping. The sump area will also have power run to it for the aerator and lighting, in the future I could also place a water pump in there for irrigation.

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For the sump itself, I needed to seal the bottom of the pipe and ordering a PVC cap would be expensive (I got the pipe from Craigslist). A concrete plug was the simple and inexpensive answer here, all I need to do is pour it down the pipe and it would create a plug. To keep it from slipping out after hardening I drilled a few holes around the base and inserted some long nails in place, these would become part of the plug.

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It’s hard to tell from this next picture, but with the pipe flipped over the nails remained around an inch above the ground so they would be in the middle of the plug.

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Next step, mix up some concrete and drop it down the pipe. I set the pipe on a scrap piece of plywood and taped the nails in place so they wouldn’t get pushed out or leak. This all worked very well.

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Once the plug dried I flipped the pipe over and made a hole in it for the feed pipe from the pond.

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One more thing before installation, there would be a secondary pipe coming from the bulkhead for wiring, hoses, or any other additional lines needed to the pond. I needed a 90 degree bend for this pipe but using an elbow would be too sharp for pulling through. Using a propane torch, I heated a section of pipe and carefully bent it so give a nice slow bend without pinching it.

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Ready for installation! Laying the pipe out was the easy part, the two runs were kept side by side with a slight gap between. Here’s where they ended by the sump.

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Here’s a view looking down the sump. I used a little spray foam to help seal where the pipe came into the sump tube.

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Looking towards the lake, note the pieces of 1×2 to keep the gap between the pipes when I filled the dirt back in.

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A closer view where the bulkhead meets the lake. The bulkhead angle doesn’t match the lake slope perfectly but that’s OK. You can see the dirt near the top will be towards the back of the bulkhead, this is good as it keeps dirt out of the area where the pipes exit.

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Another view, from the bulkhead looking back towards the sump. The total run is about 35 feet long and about 2 1/2 feet below the ground level at the pond.

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View from across the pond for perspective of size.

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With everything in place the dirt was put back over the pipes. The next step is to pour a concrete pad for the sump area. To preview the size and orientation I marked corners with these fiberglass rods. This will eventually be covered and surrounded by plants.

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When building this last year I wasn’t documenting it for a blog otherwise I’d have more pictures of the process of making the pad. In any case, here’s the result after it was poured. In the next post I’ll show the process of building the cover and I also painted the pad, in future projects I add color to the concrete to save a step and it looks better in case the concrete gets chipped.

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You can see a total of four things coming through the pad. There’s the sump, extra pipe to the bulkhead, a PVC run to go to the well head, and a smaller pipe for electrical. The black flex pipe coming up is a water line for a fountain. Here’s another view, looking towards the pond.

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Next steps are to connect the well and float valve, paint the slab, hook up the aerator and run the aeration line, hook up the fountain, and build the cover for everything.

One more note about the build, notice the slab looks pretty thick. I actually built up the middle with dirt at about 3 inches, total height is about 6 inches. I wanted it to be high enough to keep everything above probable flood level and keep mulch and dirt out. Turns out we had record flooding later in the year and this was just about perfect, water never came above the top of the slab. All electrical I have run outdoors has the connections up high to keep them out of water and it all remained functioning during the flood.

Until next time, happy planting!